In the 1970s and early 1980s he was a partner in a firm that built and owned major properties in the region, he says “once we had 90 percent of the hotel rooms in this region.” But that was before the Penn Square Bank failure in 1982, and with it, bankruptcy. “We were in the eye of the storm. We lost everything. “
With bankruptcy papers on the table, White still had his engineering firm and “the environmental world was taking off.” Now he is more involved in projects like helping landowners deal with gas spills than construction engineering. “I am a problem solver. I don’t design buildings anymore.”
Recognized by his fellow engineers, he serves on the State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.
His wife, Bonnie, has been a partner since they met as high school students in Wichita, Kan. He attended OU on scholarship and they married in 1954. The Whites have also been active in Norman’s art community. He draws and paints, and has had exhibits in galleries from New York City to Dallas. She is an active quilter, when they aren’t spending time with six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Whites are active at McFarlin Methodist Church and are mentors to Jenifer Sims, a young mother and seminary student who sees White’s strengthening training center as a part of a special ministry. “They do it all selflessly,” Sims said, whether it is their church work or working with the young weightlifters.